This coming May is the 40th anniversary of the Atlanta Flames moving to Calgary. To commemorate this occasion, we’re counting down the Top 40 Calgary Flames in history.
Coming in at #39 is a sentimental favourite, Matt Stajan.
An Ontario kid drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Stajan performed well as a pro for the organization for many seasons. But with a rebuild on the horizon, he was sent to Calgary midway through 2009-10 in a hefty trade that saw the Leafs get Dion Phaneuf.
While the Leafs knew they were on the verge of a rebuild, the Flames were clinging onto hope that they could get Jarome Iginla a Stanley Cup ring before his eventual departure. Stajan was used in the top six and performed fairly well early on, but eventually was de-emphasized as Darryl Sutter acquired more veteran forwards as part of his quest.
By his own admission, Stajan struggled to adjust to his changing roles at first. But eventually things started to click and as the Flames went unabashedly into their own rebuild in 2013, Stajan became one of the team’s most important players. On the ice, he anchored a bottom six group that was often very lean on skill and NHL experience (and relied on Stajan to hold things together). Off the ice, he was responsible for mentoring several promising young forwards as they transitioned from junior and college hockey into full-time NHL duty – often without so much as a cup of coffee in the minors.
While his cap hit was never going to match up with his scoring, Stajan was one of the better bottom six centers in the NHL for a few seasons. He, David Jones and Micheal Ferland were a superb playoff line in 2015, with Stajan scoring the series-clinching goal in 2015 as the Flames eliminated Vancouver in the playoffs.
He comes in at #39 due to longevity and historical importance.
Arrival: Acquired with Ian White, Jamal Mayers and Niklas Hagman from Toronto for Dion Phaneuf, Frederik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie (January 31, 2010)
Departure: Left as a free agent in summer of 2018
Top 40 Calgary Flames: #40 Brad Marsh